Keeping It Tidy In the Rear

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We all love to joke about the little intricacies that separate the seasoned pros from the rest of us. These well thought-out details are only learned through the osmosis that takes place over many thousands of kilometers on the road. Some make sense, some are tradition. One of these things is the practise of keeping the midriff tidy before going out for a ride.

It’s a subtle difference, but can you tell which one is the pro?

If you ride behind a pro you’ll notice their immaculatly packed rear pockets. There’s no such thing as “stuffing stuff in”. It’s a pre-ride ritual that evolves from years of unconscious practice. A perfectly formed hunch on the lower back. It’s a subtle artform that cyclists can take pride in.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Start from the middle pocket and work outwards, not the other way around. Keep away from stuffing the side pockets with jackets, waterbottles and other protruding items.

2. Keep items that you’ll always need attached to the bike. Keep the pump on the frame, saddlebag under the seat. However, take special care to not overdo it.

3. Pockets on outermost garment are to be filled first. Only put small unessential items in inner garment pockets.

4. Phone, ziplock bag and other small items go in side pockets. It’s all you should need. As the Lion of Flanders says in Rule #91, anything under a 4hr ride does not require food.

5. Jacket or vest always goes in the middle pocket. Same with any other clothing larger than gloves. And here’s the subtlety – it doesn’t just “go” in the middle pocket. There’s a special technique for proper placement into rear pocket. To the untrained eye it’s a roll. But here’s the trick – It’s all about the fold:

1. Take the jacket by the arms 2. Fold in half and bring the arms in 3. fold in half again with arms on the inside 4. Fold in half length-wise and tuck in all the loose bits 5. Fold again 6. Put in rear middle pocket with half of jacket sticking out. Special thank you to Albi for modelling and passing on the tradition

Of course I’m just being facetious and it doesn’t really matter how you arrange your rear pocket supplies. But, if you’re looking for the subtleties of tradition, function and form that nobody will ever think of teaching, here you have it.

Have a great weekend, ride hard, and ride safe!